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The changing face of migraine

Puffy eyes and the changing face of migraine

After a relatively good week, I woke up with a migraine today*. My head felt totally stuffed up and snotty, and I had the perhaps naive hope that simply blowing my nose to clear it out would help immensely.  While that did help with the stuffy feeling in my head, the blowing sensation was a little rough on my migraine brain—I should have been a little more gentle.

On my way from bed to the restroom, I noticed that my vision was a little blurrier than it usually is in the morning. True that I didn’t have my glasses on yet (I have a pretty weak prescription), but it was something else—almost as if my vision was being obstructed. When I looked in the mirror, I could understand why my eyesight was wonky: my upper and lower eyelids were puffy as all get-out. Underneath my left eye it looked like someone had actually stored something small, like a capsule of liquid or a sugar packet (ew, I’m grossing myself out here). My eyes were so swollen I looked almost like someone else from the nose on up.

Many migraine articles mention “puffy eyelid” as a symptom of a migraine attack, but in the back of my head I had always imagined that meant the upper eyelid. And while my upper eyelids are very occasionally swollen to a noticeable degree when I have a migraine (especially a bad one), I had figured this wasn’t a regular symptom of mine.  But that was because I’ve been so focused on the upper eyelid and not the lower eyelid, the area directly beneath the eye.

When I realized my error a couple of months ago, I started doing a better job of looking at my entire face during a migraine attack.  During rough migraines—and, in particular, ones that wake me from sleep—I had a puffy lower lid a full third of the time. And in about half of those instances, my upper lid was swollen as well, giving me little piggy eyes.

In addition to this making me think about puffy eyelids, this experience has opened my eyes (cheesy pun intended) to the fact that there are many parts of migraine that didn’t used to be typical for me, so I just plowed ahead putting things into categories.  For instance, I thought of myself as someone who almost always had an aura, who never had puffy eyes, whose migraines were nearly exclusively on one side of my head.  But a closer inspection has made me realize that The Migraine Girl symptoms of even a few years ago no longer match the typical migraine symptoms of The Migraine Girl in 2015.  Now I keep better track of if and when I have an aura, notice that my eyes are puffy a lot more than I had previously thought, and have had lots of migraine headaches that occur all over my head (not just on one side).

How about you others out there who’ve been dealing with migraine for a long time?  Have you noticed symptoms altering as you age?  What symptoms and signs have emerged or disappeared over the years?

*this was written in early March 2015

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • LeilaniRL
    2 years ago

    The last year, I’ve noticed how much older I’ve looked whenever I go through a migraine. I literally AGE. I didn’t used to. The intensity has increased too.

  • Melanie
    2 years ago

    I’ve developed a drooping eyelid on the left side of my face where most of my migraines are centered. When my migraines are horrific my entire face looks like it has aged 20 years.
    And for a few days after a bad migraine under my eyes look bruised.

  • TheDude
    2 years ago

    Hi,

    I’ve experienced the exact same thing. I used to have severe migraines during my 10-23 age, now I am 25. Since 23, The migraines suddenly reduced in frquency and pain. But now I have the frquent migraine auras every morning with puffy eyes. This is usualy triggred due to sleep disturbances or changes in sleep cycle.

    Any advice how to deal with this?

  • lindakay
    3 years ago

    I have had chronic migraines since I was 24. At first everyone thought it was allergies and sinus because I live on a big cattle ranch in Florida. At first I hurt on my left temple but after suffering a head injury on our ranch, I now hurt in both temples and my eyes are so puffy that it goes down into my cheeks. It’s awful when you go to a new specialist and they ask my daughter (I had her when I was 36) if she could help her “grandmother”. It makes me want to hit something. My daughter gets furious. My migraines last for more than a week and sometimes 2 weeks. Talk about neurologists thinking I am out of my mind. We have an l8,000 acre ranch and most of the time I can’t stop and rest even if it hurts so bad, like today that I fell off my horse. I see a new migraine specialist on May 26. I can only hope that he will give me some hope.

  • omanancy
    3 years ago

    We recently moved to a slightly different climate and I now have way more aura without headache than ever before. They are also more frequent. I don’t know if moving has anything to do with it however. I have had days where I have had the jagged flashing line at least 5 times. This last week I have had 2 days where the symptoms lasted all day.(new) This morning started with tinnitus (a new symptom) and I have had frequent visual aura, nausea, spots of vision that are shaded (new), dizziness, a slight headache mostly on one side in temple area, excessively tired and a generally bad feeling. I first started getting migraines right after my first child. Then they went away for years. I am now 58 and the migraine without aura started about 5 years ago. They are definitely getting worse now.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi there omanancy,
    I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing in increase symptoms. Should it be related to the change in climate, I thought I’d share this article which addresses a medication that may help. – https://migraine.com/living-migraine/triggered-by-weather-this-medication-may-help/. I’d also encourage you to speak to your doctor and discuss these changes in symptoms.

    Thanks for reaching out & for being here!
    Best,
    Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • 24uwi4q
    3 years ago

    I have had migraines since I was about 10 years of age. I’ve tried many medications physical therapy, acupuncture, accupressuer,, chiropractor, diets, surgery, most recently epidurals in my neck and head,also burning of the nerves in my neck and still I’m on the 3rd day of a migraine. My insurance finally authorized Botox 1 treatment. . We will see how that goes. Any why in the past 3 years I have had difficulty swallowing when a headache is about to stat and that gets worse as the headache progresses. . At times I have severe indigestion so bad I end up in ER because of the pain. My chest feel like someone is stabbing it. And this only happens during a migraine. .
    I apologize for any mistakes on spelling, the font is so light I can barely see it.

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    I started developing occasional double vision in my left eye a few years ago, and this year it compounded into triple some days.

    Swollen eyes? Oh yeah, at least a couple times a week I look like someone snuck in overnight and beat the (beep) out of me, and that’s been much worse this past year as well.

    In fact my overall health has declined a lot the past two years. Both my migraines and symptoms have changed.

  • TBI and still going
    3 years ago

    I have had migraines my entire life and seizures most of it as well! After a serious car accident things went from bad to much worse. It’d cpget a break ever. Thankfully it’s not alway pain but I have chronic migraine symptoms daily. The one thing that has always remained is that over they years they follow the same cycles for the most part but each year varies a little. My bad months have always been February and March and September, November, and December. My guess related to barometric pressure and seasonal changes. My Advice to all who suffer, listen to your body, pay attention to ur signs and try to find your triggers, get a neurologist who specializes in ur specific condition who you are comfortable with, and take time for yourself on the bad days, when nothing is working and pain gets severe I meditate and think of something that makes me happy usually my kids and family! Find what works for u and take each day an hour at a time

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi TBI and still going, your theory may not be far from the truth. barometric pressure is a much discussed trigger for many of our members.

    Thanks for being here and for sharing your thoughts and wise advice. We’re glad you’re here! -All Best, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • Mixi
    3 years ago

    After 46 years of migraines, I do notice a big vein(forehead), side of my migraines. And lately I did noticed a big drop of my upper eyelid near my temple.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Mixi, dilation of veins in the head is not uncommon, nor is a drooping eyelid. That being said, we would encourage you to discuss these symptoms with your doctor so that the origins can be confirmed.

    Thanks for being here and for being part of the conversation. Please stay in touch and let us know how you’re doing. -Warmly, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • Cocodog
    3 years ago

    My migraines change from one to the next. Often it appears they overlap. I have maybe 2 good days a month. One doctor gave me a diuretic to see if it helped when I noticed fluid retention starting with weather changes-my one major trigger. I took one the other day. I could see my upper eyelids, the part over the eyeball, for the first time in ages because my upper eyelids always retain fluid because of frequent migraine. The swelling will vary from bad to awful. I could have put eyeshadow on and people would have seen it!

  • Jill M.
    5 years ago

    I’ve had migraine attacks for about 27 years; began in high school in my late teens and I’m now 43. Mine have changed quite a bit over the years – ranging from every now and then to currently chronic (12-18 monthly) and also increasing in severity, which of course seems to be “typical” as far as this disease goes. Most notably though, I now experience dizziness quite often (sometimes a day or two prior, sometimes this is my only symptom), sometimes I have a premonition/weird “feeling of dread” warning in the minutes prior, and I have also developed Alice in Wonderland Syndrome in the last couple of years that I experience on occasion. That was quite freaky the first time it happened. let me tell you! Luckily, I was familiar with it due to having read a lot, so I wasn’t frightened, just “intrigued”. I wonder, though, just how many of these signs & symptoms are actually relatively new ones, or if I’m just more educated and aware now. I haven’t always kept a detailed journal (in my earlier years), so perhaps I’ve just become more knowledgeable about what things are connected to migraine and what are not. It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least! 🙂

  • Kari Froelicher
    5 years ago

    Puffy eyes can be caused by eating sugar or too much carbs. I have noticed this effect. And also in connection with not being properly hydrated.

  • pigeongirl
    3 years ago

    to The Migraine Girl, make sure your electrolyte levels are good as well! low potassium (fruits&veggies) magnesium or calcium, or even salt- can lead to poor hydration even if we drink enough water! if you drink loads you are even more likely to have peed out magnesium, and maby others too- if my electrolytes go off i do more worse overall- and get facial swelling! i have to eat some salt, fruits and veggies, dairy or take calcium, and i simple cannot get as much magnesium as i need from my diet so i take magnesium malate plus a combined form, total of 1500mg, and do much better since 🙂

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Kari,

    Thanks for this–I hadn’t been aware of that connection but definitely haven’t been eating too well lately. I’ll watch my sugar and carb intake and continue to drink so much water I have to go to the bathroom all the time. 🙂

    -Janet G.

  • quilter laura
    5 years ago

    Mine absolutely go through periods of change. For forever they were simply one sided migraine with aura plus light and sound sensitivity (I don’t recall the frequency). Then they changed to chronic (20+ headache days/month) often included nausea, neck pain, and severe fatigue. It was hard to tell where migraine ended and rebound began. Next they dropped to 1-2 very mild headaches/month, rarely requiring medication of any kind, sometimes silent. This blissful time lasted several years. Now they strike with varying frequency and severity, and can include nausea, pain in my arms and legs, neck, those puffy eyelids, inability to focus, and aura. Often my hair hurts so bad I’m afraid one day I will shave it off in frustration in the middle of an attack. Sometimes I get a really restless headache and want to bang my head against the wall. With this kind, going outside for some exercise in the cold air helps calm me down and even provides some level of relief. I’m pretty sure these restless ones are not migraines.

  • quilter laura
    5 years ago

    Also just last week I heard music in my head. I’m not sure if that is a migraine symptom or not. Has anyone ever heard music in their head during a migraine?

  • Gemma Joyce moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi quilterlaura,

    It is possible to experience “auditory hallucinations” or “paracusia” (hearing sounds that are not present) as a migraine aura symptom.

    I have “heard” music a couple of times as a migraine symptom. It sounded like a phone ringtone and lasted a few minutes, but was not heard by anyone else in the room!

    You can read more about migraine aura symptoms here:
    http://migraine.com/migraine-symptoms/aura/

    Information on phases of migraine:
    http://migraine.com/migraine-basics/migraine-phases/

    Migraine symptoms can change over time, however, it is important to seek medical care to ensure new or different symptoms are not caused by any underlying conditions:
    http://migraine.com/blog/new-or-different-migraine-symptoms/

    Best wishes,

    Gemma

  • Joni
    5 years ago

    I’ve had Migraine since I was around 10 and am now 51. It has always gone through periods of stability and change. Every time it changes, the attacks become stronger, more frequent and the symptoms worse. I’m now chronic and in another change phase that doesn’t appear to be stopping. The attacks used to be focused on one side of my head or the other, but now will cover the whole back of my head or the front of my head. The worst part is that the side symptoms like the nausea, light and sound sensitivity, dizziness, tinnitis – they’ve gotten worse as well. Some to the point that they never completely go away. The changes keep me and my doctors on our toes, we never get complacent with a medication and diet regimen because the scenario is likely to change again.

  • slhart
    5 years ago

    My right eye gets really puffy and my vision is blurred. The last few years I’ve had stroke like symptoms lasting for days at a time and now this month I’ve noticed I’m really off balance and more irritable and more depressed 🙁

  • 1ckhl5l
    3 years ago

    That sounds just like me. I had my first hemiplegic migraine about 25 years ago. Than didn’t have another til 4 years ago. Now I seem to be having more this type than my chronic migraines. I have been in the hospital three times in the last few years. I also have been feeling really off balance, depressed, and just blah. What do they do for you when you get one that won’t go away? If that’s alright to ask.

  • Pam<3Tide
    5 years ago

    This last week I fought hard to stay at work. I have no time left to be off. Last pay period I was paid 40 hours out of 80 because of my migraines. This week I had 2 new symptoms for me. One was feeling like my blood sugar was dropping. The other is my right foot was turned in. I kept wondering why my gait was off. Wish I could get a brain transplant!

  • Holly
    5 years ago

    I am now 51 ,I have noticed changes in my migraine for the last 4 yrs. My neurologist said that is normal, not good news! I use to only get them on one side of my head. Now i get them sometimes on both sides and the whole front of my head. I get lots of pressure at the base of my skull and feel like my head is a bowling ball too heavy for my neck to hold up. I tend to have pressure in my head all the time, which was not normal for me before. And my migraines last a lot longer.

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    Everything alters as you age. Just wait until you are at the stage of things moving south (lol). I couldn’t even tell you how things have changed but they keep changing. How things present today will be different tomorrow or the day after. Have long had some full head attacks. My extreme attacks start on one side, go full head, then to other side. That doesn’t change but the before and after symptoms present some one time and some another or any mix and match. Can’t list them but know them when they show up. I survive through all this but don’t bother committing the details to memory.

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